The Stories We Tell Ourselves
My husband and I are taking over his family business, started by his father 43 years ago. It’s a huge mission that is taking all of our mental resources and an exciting change in our lives. It’s also a tremendous juggling act that is stretching my brain in ways it hasn’t been stretched in a long time.
As I was driving to the office one day, I was suddenly bombarded with defeating thoughts. Who am I to take this on? I don’t have what it takes. I don’t know enough. I looked at my resume and life experiences and started to doubt my qualifications.
Here’s the thing: We look at the facts and create stories around them. Sometimes those stories build us up, creating a sense of confidence and bravado. Other times, we tell stories that knock us down a few notches, making us doubt ourselves and our abilities. When I did coaching with Lisa Neumann at Sober Identity, I learned one very important concept –
The facts are the facts but they don’t necessarily mean what we think they mean.
This is important because it means we can choose what story we tell based on what we perceive as the facts. What happened did indeed happen but what we think and feel about what happened isn’t set in stone. We can use where we are now and what we know now to create a new story about what happened.
That’s why we can look back on a painful experience and have it hurt less or more, depending on where we are in our lives at that moment. When I was a kid, my older brother drew the faces of Kiss on my Barbie dolls with a ballpoint pen. At the time, I was devastated and the bad feelings lingered for years. My child brain interpreted his act to mean he didn’t love me. Now, I think it’s hilarious and I wish I still had those dolls. The facts are the facts. He defaced (or Kiss-faced) my Barbie dolls. I can’t change the facts but I can choose to feel differently about what happened.
None of this occurred to me as I was driving to the office that day. Instead, I was forever changed in a moment. I was visited my beloved Grandpa who died last November. As a Jason Mraz CD played quietly in the background, the song The World As I See It suddenly became louder and a particular lyric stood out:
You are the world and you’re remarkable…
I had no doubt at that moment that Grandpa was singing a love song to me, telling me that he thinks I’m remarkable and that he’s so, so proud of me. In the second it took for that line to be sung, he told me that I’m inextricably connected to everything I need, all of the knowledge, the tools and support. All I have to do is ask. I am part of everything, loved by God and I already have everything I need.
These are facts and they can never change.
A special thanks to two great bloggers whose posts helped me get clarity around the story I wanted to tell – Tale Wagging the Dog by Paul at Message in a Bottle and Letting Go of Old Ideas by Josie at The Miracle is Around the Corner.